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How Do I Choose the Best Copper Wire for Jewelry?

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  • Written By: Liz Thomas
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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Choosing copper wire for jewelry is largely dependent on the type of jewelry being made. Strands of different thickness, shape and temper are all used for making different types of jewelry. Items that must be sturdy and stable will normally require thicker versions that do not bend. Copper wire is available in a number of thicknesses and strengths to suit many different styles of jewelry.

The thickness of copper wire for jewelry is called the gauge. The necessary thickness will depend on the type of jewelry being made, and how the wire is used. Lower gauges are thicker and higher gauges are thinner. Thinner wire bends much more easily. Types used for rings typically range from 10 to 16 gauges, as the wire needs to be sturdy and stable to hold shape.

Earrings and necklaces that are made of beads may require copper wire for jewelry that will fit through the bead hole. Bead holes come in a range of sizes, with seed beads and pearls having the smallest hole. Very fine gauge is commonly needed to thread these beads.

Copper wire for jewelry can be made in three different shapes: round, half-round and square. The most commonly used is round. Half-round types tend to be used when wrapping, or for threading beads, as the flat side sits flush against the side of the bead. The square version has four sides. It is also used for wrapping and creates a very different look from typical round wire.

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Another type of copper wire for making jewelry is twisted wire. Typically, twisted versions are made up of square wire that has been twisted. The final product is a round in shape, but with a much different texture than traditional round versions.

Solid copper wire will be labeled with a temper. This refers to the hardness of the wire. Of all jewelry wire, copper is generally one of the softest and most malleable, but it can also be tempered to a different hardness. Most craft wire uses copper as the base metal. Dead-soft temper results in a very soft product that can be knitted, crocheted or wrapped.

Half-hard wire is most commonly used for jewelry making. It is easy to bend but can harden if it is worked too much. Full-hard and spring-hard copper for jewelry are very difficult to bend and can be broken if pushed too hard. These are normally not used for making earrings, bracelets or rings.

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animegal
Post 5

Choosing to make your own copper jewelry can be a lot of fun, but I think that finding the best supplies can sometimes me a problem. I remember messing up quite a few pieces of copper jewelry when I first started out because I had the wrong bead sizes, or my wire was too fat to give me the look I was going for.

Nowadays, I find the easiest way to pick the best copper wire is just to buy a kit that already includes everything you need. While you may think this limits a person's creativity, you can really mix and match once you have a feel for something.

Usually I take one aspect of a design from the book and the materials given and merge it with another idea I have in mind. My pieces are much better for it.

popcorn
Post 4

I love jewelry made from copper, it has a very rustic feel to me. Luckily for me, one of my best friends is pretty adept at making copper wire jewelry and will do projects for me as long as I supply her with all of the materials she needs.

A good idea for those who aren't super creative is to find an image of a piece you like and see if you can replicate it, or in my case have a friend do it. I usually end up printing a photo of the piece I love and matching it to the different copper wire gauges available in store.

I honestly don't know much about the specific copper wire gauge numbers, but I find the staff in the supply store I go to have no trouble giving me what I need from a photo.

panda2006
Post 3

@Monika- I am similarly frustrated by wire jewelry. I looked into it, but the materials seemed really costly to me at the time, which was when I was in middle school and high school.

I do still have a bracelet somewhere that a friend made me at camp one year. It was made out of a silvery wire, though I don't know what metal, and used to be really pretty and shiny. It's tarnished a little too since then, though.

strawCake
Post 2

@Monika - That is rather sad about your jewelry making experience. I actually have a friend that makes copper wire jewelry for a hobby, and she started out with one those kits you're describing.

I think a lot of has to do with using the right materials for the right thing, as the article says. I remember my friend telling me a few stories about early jewelry making disasters. Eventually she discovered that she was using the materials incorrectly. Once she got that problem solved, she was good to go!

Monika
Post 1

When I was younger I got a copper wire jewelry making kit for Christmas one year. It came with a variety of gauges of copper wire, pliers, and everything else I needed to get started making jewelry. I was super excited!

Sadly though, I never quite got the knack for twisting the copper wire into jewelry. The kit even came with a book that had very detailed instructions, but it just wasn't enough for me. Eventually the copper wire and my few attempts at a bracelet got tarnished, and I threw them away.

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